Preview Chapter 1
Then there’s the whole rebellious teen angst phenomenon that I can assure you, exists. That rebellion that I prematurely, and undeniably mastered; it was my specialty.
When I got a little older, in high school, my dad started to really punish me a lot. All of our differences started to truly surface. All of our similarities started to relentlessly reveal itself, and then ricochet, and blow up right in our faces. Then there’s the whole rebellious teen angst phenomenon that I can assure you, exists. That rebellion that I prematurely, and undeniably mastered; it was my specialty. I became very cocky, and clever. I learned how to manage my parents and keep them under my thumb. I got good with people and learned how to talk with them, talk to them, to get everything I wanted. I became a smart ass but knew how to work people. I was charming and witty; manipulative, with an affable undertone. Still, I was a teenager. A very theatrical, and melodramatic one at that, with an appetite for danger in risk, and a proclivity for adventure in damnation. My dad couldn't handle this. I survived high school without being shipped off to boarding school solely because my mother was able to calm him down and push him through these most challenging and cryptic of times.
Despite the drugs and the running away, amongst other things, I think one of the most vexing of things my father had to endure was grasping the fact that I might be gay. He didn't even know how to talk to me about regular things, even before all this. And now, faced with this seemingly despicable reality, surely, he didn't know what the fuck to say to me. To keep me from the girls I was trying to see romantically, he would commandeer my phone. So I would use the computer to talk through Facebook, until he took that, too. So I would borrow my friend’s iTouch to use a free texting app and talk to people until he found out, and took that as well. The more he took from me, the more I perpetually sought after. The more he took from me, the more I wanted to take from him. So I would seek more formidable things. It started with piercings, tattoos, and failing classes, then escalated to skipping school and doing drugs. Those drugs lead me to inquire heavier substances. When I was really mad at him, I would be more forthright and outspoken of my lesbian love affairs. I would run away to them, or with them. I would bring them to the house when they weren't home and kiss them, and touch them. When there was nowhere I was in a rush to run away to, and no desire for me to seek communication with my friends, I would write in my room in silence because he took my iPod too. My pink iPod, that he bought for me, but purposefully bought the color pink (which I hate), because he didn't like all the boy stuff I liked. And the pink made him feel better. When I left his house in baggy cargos, my basketball jersey, high top nikes, with my hair in a bun, a bunch of rings on my fingers, it made him feel better when I would reach into my pocket and pull out a pink iPod nano.
One evening as I lay on my bed writing, he entered my room. He had read messages on my phone between me and this girl, and messages between me and this boy. The messages with the boy were much more obscene and erotic, which was much more serious, I thought. But not if I was having a gay relationship on the side of it. That, well, that was absolutely heinous. But again, when he tried to speak it was as if he knew no words. He managed to mumble some nonsense about the bible: “God loves you, Ana. God doesn’t want you to do these things, Ana. He made a woman for a man, and a man for a woman. What is with all this bologna? The bible says…” I cut him off. I shut him down, and shut him out, and ignored him completely. The voices in my head started to shout at me, and tears began to surface as I felt my throat burn. I had been cooped up in the house on a weekend for a few days now, trapped in my thoughts, demented in my loneliness. I wouldn't talk to my siblings because they didn’t understand, I didn't talk to my parents because they were appalled by the thought of it, and this, being the only real conversation I had allowed myself to have, made me want to kick and scream and inflict physical pain upon myself, and so I buried my face in my journal until he finally left. He was nicer towards the end, but I was sure not to confuse empathy for sympathy. The voices in my head got louder and were unresponsive to my desperate plead for dismissal. I packed a bag, opened my window, and ran out, towards the side fence. They were in the kitchen and saw me sprint past the window, and by the time I had made it up and over the fence, and landed on my feet, my dad was standing right at the front door. We both stopped for a minute when our eyes met and shared a moment of mutual panic and despair. With a spurt of energy, I quickly collected myself and fled the scene. He was right behind me, the son of a bitch was fast as fuck, but my stamina outlived his, and when I looked back, I saw him turn and run home. He’s getting the car, I thought. So I ran straight past the end of the block, and jumped the fence into the side of a corner house on the street. My heart was exploding in my chest, the nerves in my body frenzied, and my breath was loud and hysterical as I waited, and when I saw his car stop at the sign, he looked both ways, and made a decision. I waited for a moment for him to be far enough away from the area but then decided it be best I not expose myself at all. So I ran through their backyard and jumped the fence to another, then another, and another. I don’t know if anyone saw me. I for one, did not see a single soul. When I reached the end of the block I jumped into the backyard of another house, and then another, and I traveled this way until I got to a busy street. I waited behind a bush for the light to turn red and permit my advances. I ran across the street and almost went to Alex’s house. But he would search there.
So I ran to the park right by it, that I always go to in my desperate endeavors to escape from the headache. I stopped once I felt safe. I drank some water from the fountain and splashed some over my face, then fell back against the wall, slid down, and rested the palms of my hands on the cold cement. Then, I cried. No one was there, as usual. I sat there on the floor like that until I caught my breath. And then I sat there some more. And then, I sat there some more. Listening intently to the only voices I can hear. I felt torn, and broken. I felt empty, and dead inside, and then I felt as cold as the cement that held my body. The sun began to set, and I cried out to the sky because I was lonely and scared, but only those voices responded because God wasn't there. They told me that my dad was wrong, and that I was right. They told me that I hated my parents. They told me my siblings would never understand, and that my friends would think I'm crazy if they knew about us, and all attempts to reach out to them or anyone would be hopeless. They told me life wasn't fair, and that I didn't deserve this. Then they showed me a shiny, sharp piece of broken glass in the gravel beside me. They told me if I cut just a little, that I would feel better. They told me that if I cut just a lot, they would leave me for a little while. That sounded heavenly. So I went to reach for it, but a real voice, a human voice, called out to me from the flip-side. I earnestly turned my head to see my father, but I just saw a policeman telling me to go home, that it’s getting late. But when he spoke, his voice tore through the clamorous voices in my head and they had stopped abruptly. The voices suddenly vanished, as if they were frightened by it. After he spoke, I turned my head back around and looked to the ground, listening; searching. But I found only silence. Real silence, and no voices. The policeman called again for me, and I was dazed, but I stood to my feet. I said I was sorry. He asked where I lived, I said just around the corner, I’ll walk. He watched me as I passed. I felt defeated at first, but then I felt pathetic on my walk home, for thinking that my dad would actually know where it was that I went when I felt broken and severed.
The voices were silent as I dragged my weary feet, and I thought about my dad and why he wasn't there for me. If he really cared about me, he would really know me, he would know where I went, where I would go. But then I thought that that was unfair, that I didn't really talk to him either, or give him a chance. The voices felt near to me, then. They always came back to me when I tried to think good thoughts, or with reason. I could feel them approaching me, so I thought about God and why He wasn't there for me. But after I passed the busy street, and was about two blocks from my house, in the middle of that thought, a car pulls up beside me and rolls down the window. My father, my dad, my protector. Here, to save me from myself, you have arrived. We both hesitated, and I looked him in his frightened eyes, and we shared a moment of mutual salvation. He wasn't angry, he was tormented with anguish. He told me he’d been driving around and around, waiting and watching. We were silent the rest of the way home, but my heart was suddenly remedied, which was just enough to keep the voices at bay.
One day my dad had bought a motorcycle to remind him of his adolescence. He bought all the helmets and the jackets and the boots and the bandana, but he rarely took it out. He would maybe take it to the park for some frozen lemonade and then rush home before it rained, or before it got too dark. He would wash it, and he would polish it, and he would cover it back up and store it away until it was precisely the right time to be free again. Sometimes he would take me out on it and make me wear all this obnoxious gear, and we’d ride to black point marina and have lunch by the water that was filled with awkward conversation about school or work while we waited for food, and then silence while we ate, silence as the bill came, and silence as we walked back and rode home. Sometimes when there's a time that we should probably converse with one another his body tells me he's tense, and unsure. His silence tells me he doesn't know what to say, and my silence reciprocates mutual feelings. Still, silent time spent in his presence is better than the silent time spent without it, and so I learn to embrace this silence. I learn to love this silence, and cherish this silence, until the day that will come where I will receive just silence, and no presence.